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How to graciously manage unexpected holiday guests

In most cases, getting more than what you expected is a good thing.

But when it comes to the uninvited guests at your holiday parties, what should be a welcome surprise can all too often become a stressful situation.

You've got the menu covered: Wine-Braised Lamb Shanks transform effortlessly into an inviting Shepherd's Pie.

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Have no fear (and take a few deep breaths): With these other simple tips, your party will be all the merrier with more.

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1. Magical chairs: Keep a couple of sturdy, slim folding chairs on hand, so you can pull them out when new friends show up. If there isn’t space around the table, create a makeshift guest lounge around your coffee table using cushions and throw pillows.

2. Paper chase: Extra guests mean extra place settings. And if that means that everyone doesn’t get to use your fanciest tabletop pieces, so what? Add playfulness to the table with melamine plates and paper napkins that complement your pretty cloth ones. Dinner won’t be too serious, and cleanup will be a breeze.

3. Shimmy buffet: Since table space will be at a premium, move all of your dishes to another surface and arrange them buffet-style. Set out extra serving pieces, so people can easily get a scoop of your famous scalloped potatoes, and put some of the dishes on cake stands for height.

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4. The holiday spirits: One thing’s that's for sure is when extra guests show up, you’re going to need lots of cocktails—not just for your friends but for yourself. Bubbles like Champagne, Prosecco and even tonic water turn just about any drink into a fizzy spritz, so always have some bottles on hand.

5. Milkshake it off: Maybe you made a gorgeous pie or spent hours frosting a pristine spice cake. Instead of butchering your creation into impossibly tiny pieces just so there’s enough to go around, take inspiration from the recent milkshake craze and transform your dessert with a blender. All you need to add is some vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup (bonus points for extra toppings). Pour ‘em into tall glasses and watch as everyone’s inner kid comes out again.

Crate and Barrel provided the product featured here and sponsored this post.